Colbert asks Rahm Emanuel: 'Are you here tonight to kneecap Bernie Sanders?'

Rahm Emanuel called a possible Democratic presidential nomination of Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOcasio-Cortez's 2nd grade teacher tells her 'you've got this' ahead of DNC speech Trump and allies grapple with how to target Harris Chris Wallace: Kamala Harris 'not far to the left despite what Republicans are gonna try to say' MORE (I-Vt.) "a really big risk" if ousting President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Bob Woodward book will include details of 25 personal letters between Trump and Kim Jong Un On The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' Biden commemorates anniversary of Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' rally: 'We are in a battle for the soul of our nation' MORE is a priority, prompting host Stephen ColbertStephen Tyrone ColbertThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin previews GOP coronavirus relief package GOP official says Elizabeth Warren 'endorses voter fraud' after joke about Bailey voting for Biden Bolton book sells 780,000 copies in first week, set to surpass 1M copies printed MORE to ask the former Obama chief of staff if he came on the "Late Show" to "kneecap" the Democratic front-runner.

“In the last hundred years, three Democrats have won reelection for president: Franklin Roosevelt, President Clinton, Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden, Harris tear into Trump in first joint appearance The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden, Harris's first day as running mates It's Harris — and we're not surprised MORE," said Emanuel. He added that all three ran with a goal of building "an urban, suburban, metropolitan coalition."

"Bernie is saying ‘Forget that. Screw it,' " he continued. "Basically, there are about 70 million socialists ready to be awoken to their inner socialist. And I would just say to you if our No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 goal is to get rid of Donald Trump, it is a really big risk to go on a political strategy that has never been tried before.”

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“Are you here tonight to kneecap Bernie Sanders? Because you’re sweeping the leg, you're sweeping the leg here, man,” Colbert said.

“No, here’s the thing,” Emanuel, a former Democratic mayor of Chicago, responded. “You have a presidential contest. You have the U.S. Senate with a good chance to take it. You have the House elections where we have a majority there. You have all the governorships, state houses up. So it’s not just a presidential. This is a national election of national import.”

“Why do you think Bernie is leading then?” Colbert asked.

“I think all the opposition is divided,” Emanuel said. “Ten years ago, 1992, 1996, if you won a presidential election, in 2008, if you had been third or fourth three times in a row, you’d be out."

"But because of the internet and all the fundraising that’s going on, everybody is going to stay around the hoop, thinking this is not possible for Bernie to be there. So you have four or five people still in the field ... and they should be by this time off the field and then it would go one on one.”

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The back-and-forth came after Sanders won a decisive victory in Nevada on Saturday, cementing his front-runner status heading into this weekend's crucial South Carolina primary, where Sanders has been gaining fast on former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenRon Johnson signals some GOP senators concerned about his Obama-era probes On The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' Biden commemorates anniversary of Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' rally: 'We are in a battle for the soul of our nation' MORE, who has led all polls in the Palmetto State for months.

Sanders easily won the Nevada caucuses. He was followed by Biden and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - The choice: Biden-Harris vs. Trump-Pence California Democrats back Yang after he expresses disappointment over initial DNC lineup Obamas, Clintons to headline Biden's nominating convention MORE in the third spot.

Sanders also led the 2020 Democratic presidential field a CBS News–YouGov national poll released on Sunday with 28 percent support, compared to Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenNew poll shows Markey with wide lead over Kennedy in Massachusetts Trump and allies grapple with how to target Harris Chris Wallace: Kamala Harris 'not far to the left despite what Republicans are gonna try to say' MORE (D-Mass.) at 19 percent. Biden is at 17 percent in the same poll, followed by former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergEverytown on the NRA lawsuit: 'Come November, we're going to make sure they're out of power, too' Hillicon Valley: Trump raises idea of delaying election, faces swift bipartisan pushback | Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google release earnings reports | Senators ask Justice Department to investigate TikTok, Zoom Meme group joins with Lincoln Project in new campaign against Trump MORE and Buttigieg, who come in with 13 and 10 percent support, respectively. Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharElection security advocates see strong ally in Harris The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - The choice: Biden-Harris vs. Trump-Pence California Democrats back Yang after he expresses disappointment over initial DNC lineup MORE (D-Minn.) is sixth in the poll at 5 percent support.